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Badal Roy


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Badal Roy (Bangla: বাদল রায়) (born Amarendra Roy Chowdhury in Comilla, eastern Bengal, British India, 1945) is a tabla player, percussionist, and recording artist known for his work in jazz, world music, and experimental music.


Roy was born into a Hindu family in a predominantly Muslim eastern Bengal region of British India (which later became East Pakistan, then Bangladesh)[1]. He speaks the Bengali, English, Hindi, and Urdu languages[1]. His father was a government official who served in the distinguished position of Joint Secretary. His nickname, Badal (meaning “rain,” “cloud,” or “thunder” in the Bengali language), was given to him by his grandfather after he began crying in the rain as a baby[1].

An early inspiration for Roy was American popular music, and he particularly enjoyed the music of artists such as Elvis Presley, Pat Boone, and Nat King Cole. His first exposure to jazz came when he saw a concert by Duke Ellington and his 60-member orchestra at the Metropole Hotel in Karachi, West Pakistan in 1959; he and his brother were the only Pakistanis in attendance (the rest of the audience was white).

Roy received a master’s degree in statistics. He came to New York City in 1968 to work on a Ph.D. With only eight dollars in his pocket, he began working as a busboy and waiter in various Indian restaurants, including Taste of India and Raga. He later settled in East Brunswick Township, New Jersey[2].

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